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Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal's most recent collections include Poet in Andalucia, which Alice Walker lauds as "poems of depth and weight and the sorrowing song of longing and resolve" and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award. The New York Times says it's "a book that trembles with belonging (and longing)." She is a Lannan Foundation Fellow and winner of the 2011 Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, among other honors.

The Fall

                    —To my mother


Remember how pelicans die?
Under the afternoon sun
that beats against the Pacific coast,
water swallows them like lead.
Nothing can save them.
There's so much dignity in a vacuum,
so much love in their flights,
that at the last moment they chose silence.
What remains
is the beating of their bodies against the water
like a hum from a unnoticeable wind.
From this room you can't view the sea,
high cliffs don't exist
and no horizon remains unharmed.
It doesn't matter,
you sense a murmur in this black night,
you can touch its arm.
You'll remember then, as you feel the cold arriving,
that in autumn, this sea that you love so much
turns gray and leaves
the names of the past written in the sand.
You sat down to watch them.

In front of you,
the horizon is twisting,
a child dives into the waves.
The east wind, so warm and perfect,
betrays him and pushes him.
You have come to save me.
Your arms,
so weak now,
wrap around my nine-year-old body
until it touches the shore.

It's true,
from this room you can't view the sea
but my hands are trembling
like they did in that distant afternoon.
Now I take hold of yours,
feel how much I love you,
how you save my fear with your gestures,
how you hold life between your fingers.
Leave aside the flesh,
you've beaten your face against water so often
that light has broken.
There are no stars under the sea.
Open your eyes,
death is so blind the fear it provokes confuses you.

Open your eyes,
now look for me in the middle of this ocean,
I'll hold you tightly in my arms,
feel them enfolding you,
let's find our shore,
the sea hasn't drawn our names,
today, we are not the past,
sweat is salty,
the sea's foam against the rocks
this fear on your lips.

Life is waiting for us.

La Caida(Original Spanish)

                    —A mi madre


¿Recuerdas cómo mueren los pelícanos
Bajo el sol de la tarde
que golpea la costa del Pacífico
el agua los engulle como al plomo.
Nada puede salvarlos.
Hay tanta dignidad en el vacío,
tanto amor en sus vuelos,
que en el último instante escogen el silencio.
Sólo queda
el golpe de sus cuerpos contra el agua
como un rumor de viento imperceptible.
Desde esta habitación no puede verse el mar,
no existen altas rocas y no queda horizonte
que no hayan destruido.
No importa,
intuyes un rumor en esta noche negra,
puedes tocar su brazo.
Recordarás entonces, al percibir el frío,
que en otoño ese mar que tanto amas
se vuelve gris y deja
los nombres del pasado escritos en la arena.
Te has sentado a mirarlos.

Frente a ti,
torciendo el horizonte,
un niño se sumerge entre las olas.
El levante, tan cálido y perfecto,
lo traiciona y lo empuja.
Has venido a salvarme.
Tus brazos,
tan frágiles ahora,
cubren el cuerpo de mis nueve años
hasta tocar la orilla.

Es cierto,
desde esta habitación no puede verse el mar
pero tiemblan mis manos igual que aquella tarde.
Ahora cojo las tuyas,
siente cómo te amo,
cómo salvas mi miedo con tus gestos,
cómo tienes la vida sujeta entre los dedos.

Deja a un lado la carne,
has golpeado tanto tu rostro contra el agua
que la luz se ha quebrado.
No hay estrellas debajo del océano.
Abre los ojos,
es tan ciega la muerte que el temor te confunde.

Abre los ojos,
búscame ahora en medio de este océano,
voy a agarrarte fuerte con mis brazos,
siente cómo te aprieto,
busquemos nuestra orilla,
el mar no ha dibujado nuestros nombres,
es hoy, no somos el pasado,
es salado el sudor,
es la espuma del mar contra las rocas
este miedo en tus labios.

Nos espera la vida.
Fernando Valverde

Fernando Valverde

Fernando Valverde is from Granada, Spain. He has published numerous books, most recently Con Los Ojos del Pelicano, which won the prestigious Emilio Alarcos Prize given by the Principality of Asturias. He has been awarded the Federico Garcia Lorca Prize and the Juan Ramón Jiménez Prize. Benjamin Prado says that Valverde "is the most interesting poet of new generations of Spaniards born in democarcy...and some of his books have already made a mark in his generation."

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